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Ricky Schroder’s Newest Co-Star: His 14-Year-Old Daughter

The former child star once vowed to keep his kids away from the screen — now he’s directing all four of them in a movie he wrote and helped to produce

For years, when people asked Ricky Schroder whether the former child star would want his children to act, he'd give the same answer:

"No," he'd tell them. "Not everything beautiful has to be exploited."

So it may seem a little odd that this month, he finished shooting a movie starring his 14-year-old daughter. And featuring his two sons. And his other daughter. And his wife.

Schroder wrote, directed, executive produced and co-starred in "Wild Hearts," which he shot at the ranch in Simi Valley where "Little House on the Prairie" was shot.

The experience brought him closer to his 14-year-old daughter, Cambrie.

"I wrote this as a gift for her," he told TheWrap. "I pounded the script out in four weeks because I was so motivated every day to get up and write for her."

Talking about the movie, Schroder, who is 40, sounds more like a proud father than a producer.

The movie is about a young girl from Malibu — played by Cambrie — who finds the father she has never known in the wilds of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Her father, Jack — played by Ricky Schroder — is a cowboy who breaks wild mustangs for a living and is not especially prepared for fatherhood.

"I sat down and custom-tailored the part, the story for her and me to work together about a father and a daughter who get to know each other for the first time in their lives," Schroder said.

"My character, Jack, sort of got to know his daughter in a way that I'd never gotten to know my daughter until this movie, which is as a young lady and a young actress."

Schroder, who starred in the television series "Silver Spoons" when he was 12, and went on to star in "NYPD Blue," "24," and other projects, said it took him a while to decide that it would, in fact, be a good idea for his daughter to following in his footsteps.

"Something changed," he said. "I'm not sure what it was, but all my kids showed an interest in it, and … I found some peace and harmony in the thought of my kid doing this, and my kids wanted to do it. I'm not hoping that Cambrie, at 14, goes full time into acting or anything. I just wanted to capture this time in her life."

In fact, he said, "I don't think she should work again for a while."

This project was all family: His sons, 19-year-old Holden and 17-year-old Luke, and his 9-year-old daughter Faith, all had roles, as did Schroder's wife, Andrea. And because Schroder directed, he could keep a fatherly eye on everything.

"I could tell when Cambrie was getting tired, and she would start snapping back at me," he said. "Comments  came from the daughter's lips and not the actress's lips."

But those moments were rare, he said.

"She was everything I had hoped she'd be on set," he said. And, as someone who grew up onscreen, he could "relate and identify," he said.

Financing fell apart as Schroder was writing the film, "so I decided to finance it myself," he said. "My wife and I talked about it and we thought, 'Why not? We've lost money in worse ways than this.'"

His wife, Andrea, produced with Jina Panebianco and Steve Gainer. The movie also stars Chris Massigolia ("The Vampire's Assistant"), Martin Kove ("The Karate Kid"), Angela Lindvall ("CQ," "Somewhere"), Eloise Dejoria ("Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps") and Cliff Potts ("Sahara").

Schroder figures the movie will be finished in June. The movie has no distribution yet, "and my plan is to show it to family-friendly distributors who like this kind of product and see if we can't get a television premiere," he said.

"Of course I'd love to think theatrical release, but it's not up to me."

And although Schroder said he'd like his daughter to take a break from the screen, "We're already talking about a sequel."

A pause.

"Maybe even a series."

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